Sometimes you just get a Sign from the Universe.
Like when you dream about your unborn child and she introduces herself and informs you of her name (my daughter did that. I hadn't ever considered the name Charlotte before that dream).
Or when the college you liked best, the one that felt like home the minute you stepped onto the campus, the one that then proceeded to decorate itself with the most beautiful and picturesque snowfall just for your visit, and the one that was also the most expensive and farthest out of your financial reach, just happens to send you what amounts to a full scholarship.
Or when there are not one, but two sets of beautiful kittens born under your own front porch in one summer, and the second litter (of only 2 cats, which is the perfect number of adoptees) bears an uncanny resemblance to a pair of cats from your childhood, and one of the two kittens practically begs at the front door to be let inside, and the timing just happens to be pretty darned good for your family to introduce pets.
Apparently, now the Universe is in dire need of a picture album of my family. There have been Signs.
We took the kids to see Santa at the mall on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. For the grand price of $25 we got a couple of snapshots of the kids on Santa's lap, a CD of the same snapshot, and a $20 gift card to Shutterfly. (Did I mention that the Universe might be named Shutterfly for purposes of this post?). $20 is way more than I needed to order a few extra prints of the Santa pose, so I started browsing the photo books. You know, the ones where you upload like 100 pictures and design your own book. They're great. They're beautiful. They give me panic attacks.
I have no idea where my hang-up about pictures and albums (and the insertion of the one into the other) comes from. It's not like I've ever been attacked by a rabid scrapbook or mauled by a glue-dot wielding paper cutter or anything. But when it comes to dealing with photos, I freeze.
I'm getting better. Thanks to the choosing of my own camera (one that didn't have so many buttons and lenses that it requires a college degree to shoot a photo), and to the purchase of my phone (with built-in camera), I now willingly take photos. Without prompting. I even share them (that whole "Share via Facebook" option on the phone goes so fast I don't have time to pass out from the hyperventilating).
Back to Shutterfly and the photo books. I've made one of these before. Last year, after our family trip to Destin over Thanksgiving, I spent hours arranging our photos onto pages and choosing background colors. It turned out really nice, and the kids love the finished book to pieces, and I've been afraid of that website ever since. It's a time suck and something about all of that arranging and sorting just seems so hard. (Yes, I am the same person who is writing my 4th novel-length manuscript that I hope to someday publish, this one being an epic fantasy that will likely clock in somewhere over 100,000 words long. Clearly large tasks don't always freak me out).
So, $20 gift card. I've got to spend it (not doing so violates every instinct against gifting my money to some corporate bottom line). I looked at the site Sunday morning and ended up running from the computer in terror. And then, at the grocery store checkout Sunday night, they printed me out a nice coupon. Was it $2 off my next grocery order? Oh, no. They couldn't be that kind. No, it was a free 8x8 photo book from Shutterfly.